Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Day 855 : Remembering a Cheese Trailblazer - Daphne Zepos

This past week, the world of American artisanal cheese changed forever -- Daphne Zepos passed away at the age of 52 due to lung cancer.

Daphne Zepos changed the way Americans ate, eat, think, and appreciate cheese as a writer, educator, aficionado, importer, chef, advocate, and more. Where to begin? Zepos co-owned the Cheese School of San Francisco which is one of the foremost cheese education facilities in the country. She also founded the Essex Street Cheese Company that imports small production European cheeses and really introduced Americans to Comte and other popular European cheeses that simply were not available in the American market. She also co-founded the Cheese of Choice Coalition known for preservation of raw milk and artisanal cheeses. From 2002-2005, she played a lead role at Artisanal's Cheese Center, curating and caring for the three hundred cheeses stored in the caves at the time along with being at the helm of their education program. She was a former board member of the American Cheese Society and was the Chairperson of the ACS Annual Cheese Competition from 1999 to 2002. She also wrote on the topic of cheese and all the cheese for the Atlantic -- spreading the wealth of her knowledge to the world. The list goes on and on.

Zepos truly changed the way Americans interact with cheese -- from the growth and stimulation of local farms to the drastic increase in small production European cheeses readily available here to really teaching Americans to appreciate cheese in the ways that Europeans always have.

You may wonder how does someone get into the world of cheese in this manner?

Well Zepos started out as a chef at the hotel restaurant Campton Place in San Francisco where not only would she don her chef whites in the kitchen, she would also change into formal attire to push around San Francisco's first cheese cart and offer diners a European style cheese course. Funnily enough, growing up when my family went to San Francisco we stayed at the Campton Place and although a different era I reckon, what a small world it would have been to have been served cheese by Zepos.

In honor of her memory and the advancement of cheese education, donations can be made through the American Cheese EducationFoundation c/o of the American Cheese Society online at www.cheesefoundation.org.

It's amazing to stop and think what miracles she accomplished in her brief but brilliant time on earth.

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